Last week the RITA and Golden Heart finalists were announced. I'd like to congratulate everyone who finaled, especially Kieran Kramer, Paula Graves, Gwen Hernandez and Sharon Wray.
Contests can be a wonderful way for a writer's 'book of the heart' to find a home. Though luck and timing prevail, contests are a constant temptation on the end of a baited hook, which, when the rod is flicked and the reel thrown through cyberspace, entices writers out of their caves with promises of grandeur and hopes of advancing past the slush pile into an editor's or agent's heart. Seeing other writers final in contests can be motivating. But to many entrants, submitting to contests is a game of Russian roulette. What a writer gets out of a contest is the answer to an individual quest. It is the result of character, determination and perseverance.
For most, there will be no glory, no certificate of achievement or one-way ticket to an agent or editor's desk. If you're lucky, like I was last year when my entry, PIRATE BY NIGHT, finaled in the Georgian/Regency/Victorian category of the Romance Through the Ages contest, you're given a nod that you're on the right track.
This year, I'm happy to say I've finaled in the Romance Through the Ages contest again. The hero from my book, LOVE NEVER DIES, James Butler, finaled in the Legend Award category. Heroes out of all the entries in the contest are considered for this award. James, a 100 year old warlock charged with protecting an unseasoned witch and the talisman her ancestors have hidden for centuries, has been nominated for best hero. He's up against 6 other charismatic men, but the fact that the judges fell in love with James is very satisfying. The final results won't be announced until the Hearts Through History AGM in NYC, the end of June. In the meantime, I'm revising my entry and preparing it for the final round.
Every artist, no matter if they are a writer, painter, sculptor, love to needlepoint or garden, needs positive feedback. Contests can be that for many or they can be deflating. Everything depends upon your mindset.
I found a wonderful mantra from Jack M. Bickham and his book, The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them). Put this on index cards and keep it handy or tape it near your computer for easy access when the world tries to break you down.
You CAN sell without an agent
Publishers ARE looking for new writers
Beginners DO break in every year
You DO NOT have to live in NYC to succeed
Your next story WILL BE better
Your luck IS NOT worse than most
Persistence WILL win out
The struggle IS worth making
You DO have enough talent
Anything you still need to know CAN BE learned
Tomorrow WILL look brighter.
(Jean and Stephanie will love this!) Bear Bryant said: "Don't give up at halftime. Concentrate on winning the second half."
Joe Paterno said: "The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital."
And here's my favorite, a great quote that taught me to send my babies into the world. "You have to send a ship out before your ship can come in."
What keeps you going?